Ireland, on the other hand, will look to take this series as a chance to go toe to toe with one of the powerhouses of international cricket. An ICC full-time member only since 2017, Irish cricket has come a long way but is still trying to find its way to the top of the chain in international cricket.
With a bunch of talented cricketers, Ireland will be itching to give their best and make a mark against an Indian side that doesn’t have the services of the likes of Virat Kohl, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant and other first choice players. And for that, the Irish have got some exciting prospects in their line-up.
TimesofIndia.com here takes a look at 5 Irish cricketers who you should watch out for in the 2 match T20I series in Dublin:
Andrew Balbirnie (captain – Right hand bat)
Swashbuckling Andrew Balbirnie will be one of India’s biggest threats in the upcoming 2-match T20I series starting Sunday. The Irish opener has been terrific at the top of the order for his side and has led from the front with the bat.
Skipper of the Ireland team since 2019, Balbirnie so far has represented Ireland in 67 T20Is where he has 1,429 runs at an average of 24.22. But the most impressive part of Balbirnie’s batting is his scoring rate at the top of the order. Known for giving his team strong starts, Balbirnie gets the runs quickly and has had a strike rate of over 126 in 67 T20I outings.
Andrew Balbirnie (Image credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
With 5 T20I fifties under his belt and a highest score of 83, Balbirnie will look to make a statement against a relatively young Indian bowling attack in the two T20Is.
To go with his batting skills, Ireland will also look to Balbirnie to step up to the plate and deliver on the captaincy front against India, who will have a new skipper in Hardik Pandya in the upcoming series.
In the last 5 international T20Is Ireland played in February, Balbirnie got scores of – 19, 33, 32, 12 and 4.
Andrew Balbirnie T20I stats: Matches: 67; Runs: 1429; SR: 126.68; HS: 83; 100S: 0; 50s: 5
Paul Stirling (Batting all-rounder – Right hand bat, right arm off-break)
Currently one of the most experienced members in the Ireland line-up, opener Paul Stirling will have to play a crucial role if his team has to do well against India. The Irish will be relying heavily on the 31-year-old all-rounder to come good against the strong opposition.
The hard-hitting batter at the top of the order has got a ton of experience, playing in several T20 leagues and domestic matches and that will pose a big threat. In the 102 T20I matches Stirling has represented Ireland in so far, he has got 2,776 runs to his name at an average of over 29.
Paul Sterling (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Stirling is also among the few who have smacked a hundered in a T20 international — 115* against Zimbabwe in 2021.
With a ton and 20 fifties to his name in his international career so far, the opener has been highly impressive with his ability to hit the ball long and hard – with a strike rate of over 134.
With 20 wickets to his name as well in the 102 T20I matches he has played so far, Stirling is a complete package and will be a key player for Ireland.
Paul Sterling T20I stats: Matches: 102; Runs: 2776; SR: 134.69; HS: 115*; 100s: 1; 50s: 20; Wickets: 20; ER: 7.46; Best: 3-21
Andy McBrine (Bowler – Right arm off-break)
Off-spinner Andy McBrine is the only spin bowler Ireland have included in their 14-man squad against India. Although the likes of Paul Stirling, Gareth Delany and George Dockrell will be chipping in as spinners if needed, McBrine will be on the frontline for Ireland in the spin department.
The 29-year-old so far has represented Ireland in 26 T20Is and has 21 wickets to his name. McBrine’s terrific economy rate of 6.39 makes him a potential player to watch out for against India.
Andy McBrine (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Bowling tight overs and choking opposition for runs has been McBrine’s strength and he will hope to continue bowling economically against the experienced high-profile India batters.
To go with his bowling prowess, McBrine also has a batting strike rate of over 115 and can swing the bat down the order, if needed.
McBrine took 6 wickets in his last 5 T20 internationals played in February.
Andy McBrine T20I stats: Matches: 26; Wicket: 21; ER: 6.39; Best: 2-7
George Dockrell (All-rounder – Right hand bat, slow left arm orthodox)
George Dockrell has been in the Ireland set-up for quite a while now and the 29-year-old has been making consistent strides in his all-round skills. A slow left-arm spinner, who can also hit the ball long at the death, Dockrell will be looking to make a mark in the 2 T20Is against India.
In the 93 T20I matches he has played so far, Dockrell has got 76 wickets and 445 runs to his name. Dockrell’s impressive economy rate of just over 7 makes him a difficult bowler to go after in the middle overs and he will look to take on the challenge posed by the high quality Indian batters.
George Dockrell (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
With the bat, Dockrell has a strike rate of over 121 and will come in handy for Ireland lower down the order.
With a combined experience of over 300 white-ball domestic games and playing in different T20 leagues, the experienced Dockrell will eye a strong performance against a tough Indian opposition.
George Dockrell T20I stats: Matches: 93; Runs: 445; HS: 34*; SR: 121.91; Wickets: 76; ER: 7.12; Best: 4-20
Craig Young (Bowler – Right arm fast medium)
Craig Young will be leading the pace attack for Ireland in the series against India. Currently the most experienced pacer in the Irish set-up, Young will have the likes of Barry McCarthy, Joshua Little, Mark Adair and debutant Conor Olphert accompanying him.
Craig Young (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
In the 48 T20 internationals Young has represented Ireland in so far, the 32-year-old has got 48 scalps to his name at an economy of 7.79.
Young’s best career figures of 4 for 13 were registered against Nigeria back in 2019 and has a couple of four-fors to his name in the shortest format.
In the last 5 T20Is he played in February, Young picked up 12 wickets.
Craig Young T20I stats: Matches: 48; Wickets: 48; ER: 7.79; Best: 4-13